In this passage Paul continues his teaching concerning the new life the believer has in Christ. It is important to understand that regeneration or being born again, a work God does in us, does not consist  in a mere moral reformation of life. It brings infusion of a new, real, spiritual principle into the soul. It seeks God’s glory and the expulsion of the enmity toward God characteristic of the old nature.

With this in mind, Paul says: “Put away anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk in from your mouth. Do not lie to one another seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices.” By anger and wrath, Paul means the disposition that arises from the devil’s nature; a self-centered, sinful anger. Paul says in Titus 3 we all by nature are hating and being hated.

God is said to be angry and wrathful, but it is his good and perfect nature’s opposition to all that is evil. There is no malice in it. He takes no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked. The devil, on the other hand, does take sordid pleasure in hating and destroying. Men have borne his image this way.

For this reason Paul instructs Christians to put off the old self with its practices. They are to no longer practice sinful ways of the world. The Christian is to now reflect God’s image which Paul says is being renewed in them (verse 10). This includes being slow to anger and not indulging in the sinful nature’s desire to hate others.

Paul speaks of “putting off” the old, and “putting on the new self.” In the early church at baptism, those baptized would be given fresh, new, white clothes to put on. This symbolized the perfect cleansing from sin from Christ’s shed blood and the new life of the Holy Spirit, both gifts from God the Father to his adopted children.

So Christians are new creations of God. If you have ever witnessed the revitalization of downtown in a city, they often start with the demolition of old, dilapidated buildings. They blow them up, scrape it all away, razing the landscape before building the new, beautiful building the architect has designed. God’s model for the Christian is to destroy the old, sinful nature, and build the new in the image of Christ.

God incorporates the willing cooperation of his children in this building of the new. As a Christian, I couldn’t do anything to contribute to the taking away of the guilt of my sin, nor the new nature God creates; but I am responsible, in view of these mercies,  to be heavenly minded, to sit under God’s word, and seek his glory as he continues the good work in me he began. 

The encouragement to the believer is that God will not leave his people to themselves. He will work all things for their good, to continue to form Christ in them. God’s encouragements, his patience, his warnings, his rebukes, his discipline, afflictions or comforts, all proceed from the great love he has for his people. He desires to see his image formed in them and will have his way.

Paul summarizes the eternal, unsearchable blessing it is to be a part of God’s people in verse 11: “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” From all these categories, God had saved some in Christ.

We think our world today is divided, but the old world in Paul’s day was too. Greeks despised Jews. The Jews said the Greeks were defiled and unclean, which they were. The Jews just didn’t realize they were unclean as well. Barbarians were uneducated, ignorant, and looked down upon. They hated the people who thought them inferior. Scythians were notoriously brutal, murderous people. Slaves were often in a wretched position, used in whatever way their master pleased. But they were sinners too.

Free people had a better lot in life but had the same in common with all the other categories of men: they are all naturally estranged from God, sinners deserving the judgment of God, and going to get it. It is only in Christ any men have a hope and a future. So Paul directs us to keep our eyes on Christ.